The young mother returned to work three months after giving birth. She was wracked with guilt over leaving her infant son in the care of strangers, but grudgingly accepted that it was the reality for working parents living in the United States. Tragically, her son died of unknown causes during his first few hours in day care. Are incidents like these in any way connected to the lackluster maternity leave standards in the U.S.? The new documentary Maternity Leave takes a probing look at this issue.
The United States is one of only two countries in the world that does not mandate maternity leave for all working parents. While a small percentage of companies offer up to three months of paid leave following the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 88% of American women are employed by businesses that do not. Lawmakers have been sluggish in their recognition or response to this crisis as many of them believe that more regulations would place an overwhelming burden on the business sector. But what does this say about the country's investment in real family values?
According to the film, the lack of maternity leave options for America's working women impacts the gender wage gap, stress and ill health, poverty, and the overall perception of a woman's value in the workplace. By forcing a new mother to return to work a few days or weeks following her delivery, her infant is deprived of the crucial moments when parental bonds are formed, thereby increasing the probability of troubled youth, rising crime, infant mortality and a future plagued by escalating levels of economic and societal instability.
The filmmakers travel to Sweden, where maternity leave is mandated by the government for up to 60 weeks, and then to Papau New Guinea, which is the only country with lower leave standards than the United States. The contrast between the two countries is startling.
Back in the States, the conversation surrounding paid maternity leave is stifled by bitter partisanship in Washington. But the people have the power to provoke meaningful change. Maternity Leave urges for a unified public outcry over U.S. policies that undermine the interests of working families.
Directed by: Tracy Wares
Good documentary. The interviewer needs to work on interpersonal skills. The interviews felt awkward and forced to me, like the conversation with the locals in the market in Papua New Guinea. I do not think the United States should mandate maternity leave because I think it will indirectly hurt the very women it's trying to help. I do think people have realized their value (post-pandemic) and are demanding better wages and benefits. Companies will either comply or close their doors. It's that simple. Survival of the fittest!
People in the comments who are bashing women for having kids when they can't afford them need to shut up. Are you saying reproduction is now a privilege that shouldn't be offered to those who work for lower pay? That's insane and if that's what you believe I dare you say that to a single, working mother's face.
Sweden's liberal maternity leave policy was based on Swedish women having 1.9 children. It was funded by Swedes who paid in and supported the system. Now Sweden is being inundated by people that paid in nothing and have a much higher birth rate. I wonder how long it will be before the system collapses?
@LLS Because raising kids you can't afford to have (i.e. "financial struggle) is certainly good parenting...And showing your kids that you are incapable of working and supporting yourself without a husband to pay for everything is surely a good precedent. And what happens if the breadwinner gets fired, or sick, becomes disabled, or dies? Funny how you have no other statistics because they've shown that kids with two working parents fare the same as kids who have a stay-at-home mom or dad. Stop trying to validate your choices with data after the fact; you made your choice and NOW find facts to justify it.
We need to wake up. Stop bringing children into the world that you can't raise. Paying someone else to parent our children is quite insane. There has been a decades - long conspiracy to eradicate the traditional family unit and it has finally succeeded. We need a responsible, capable parent in the home at all times. The key-latch kid has become the norm, societies of children who 'raise' each other abound on this planet, older siblings have become surrogate parents ... where the hell is the love in any of this? It would seem that on the whole society has some sort of brainwashed fetish for producing babies but no fetishes regarding raising those said children themselves!
I personally opted for a life of financial struggle so I could be a stay-at-home Mother for two children, one in a wheelchair. Who else could I entrust them to after hearing a statistic that stated our children are at a 6% increase of death in the care of anyone else but the main numero uno caregiver. Swish that around in your mind awhile.
Maternity leave...for 18 years. What do you have kids for only to hand them over to someone else????!!!
Connected to lackluster maternity leave standards? I don't think so. How about lackluster care at child care centers? That was my first thought.
I wonder if the child had been vaccinated?